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Who Should Be Equipped for the Ministry?

Someone once described a football game as 22 players on the field who desperately need rest and 22,000 spectators in the stands who desperately need exercise. Unfortunately in the spiritual realm the church is often a lot like the football game. We hold a skewed view of who is supposed to do the work of the ministry. We say, "Well, we pay the pastor, isn't he supposed to do it?" This sad attitude is not at all what the apostle Paul portrays in Eph. 4:11-16.

After making his main action statement in v. 11 about the giving of gifted leadership to the church, Paul uses the word 'for' in v.12. This little word (Greek pros) in this construction expresses a goal aimed at or a purpose. It shows the purpose of the gifted individuals in v. 11. I believe that apostles and prophets are not for today, but that debate is not the purpose of this article. Evangelists evidently had a ministry like church-planting missionaries. In the local church today pastors and teachers are used of God for this equipping ministry. Pastor, by the way, is synonymous with elder, overseer (shepherd = pastor) 1 Pet. 5:1, 2.

So if pastors and teachers are “for the purpose of equipping the saints,” then who are these saints that should be equipped? You can probably guess that the answer is not the Roman Catholic saints like St Theresa or St Christopher. The word ‘saint’ means “sanctified one” or “one set apart for a purpose.”

(1 Cor 1:30) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;

(1 Cor 6:11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

(1 Cor 1:2) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints....

Everyone who is a Christian has been sanctified (in position—the practice comes gradually), so Paul addresses most of his epistles “to the saints,” as in Eph. 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus.” In other words, this is not a special class of Christians. We are all saints! So, who should be equipped? ALL the Saints, every Christian, every one os us. Paul also uses several parallel statements. In v. 13 he says, “until we all come,” in v. 14 “that we should.” And in v. 16 he uses the phrases “whole body,” “every joint supplies,” and “every part does its share.”

This completely knocks out the old idea of a distinction between ‘lay’ and ‘professional’ in ministry. For too long this false distinction has kept Christians looking to their leaders to do evangelism, discipleship of new believers, counseling of hurting believers, and even to tell them what to believe. The church has become an army of a few soldiers with thousands of support troops. We need to regain the biblical concept of the whole church doing the ministry.

Many Christians are afraid of being involved in the ministry. They believe they do not have the ability. It does not matter how simple you think your gifts are—see what Paul says in 1 Cor 1:26 (NKJV):

"For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called., But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty..."

The history of the Church is NOT the story of the shining lights, the big voices, the ones who preached to thousands, it’s the story of the Saints being equipped and doing the work of the ministry.

I find no other major purpose statement in the New Testament than this one for the person who fills the office of pastor or teacher. So the leaders in every church have as their job to equip ALL the Saints for ministry. Now use your high school English and turn that around to the passive voice. If it is the Pastors’ job to equip the Saints...then it is the job of the Saints

                               TO BE EQUIPPED!!!

Church leadership cannot work with unwilling people, you and I must remember...

              EVERYONE IS CALLED TO THE MINISTRY!

If you want to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, present yourself the leaders of your church. Let them know you want to serve in whatever way the Lord gifts you for and opens up for you to do. If you don’t have the knowledge, they will help you get it. If you don’t have the skills, they will help you develop them. But you must first be willing and available.

But now that you are ready to be equipped...

In our next study, we will take a look at what is involved in this equipping.

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